When I was fifteen I read the creation story of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Having been told the Bible was the infallible word of God, I was perplexed when I got to ‘Days’ Three and Four. On ‘Day Three’ God had Earth bring forth grasses, herbs and other green plants, and on ‘Day Four’ God put the greater and lesser lights in the sky (presumably the sun and moon). As a teenager, I already understood enough about photosynthesis to recognize that this sequence of ‘Days’ was out of order. The proclaimed infallibility of the Bible was, as far as I was concerned, overturned by the time I finished five paragraphs.
Thirty years after defenestrating the creation story of the Bible I was reading the Tao te Ching, a book written in the sixth century BCE by a Chinese philosopher called Lao Tsu. When I got to Chapter Forty-Two, I recognized it as a creation story.
Whereas Genesis offers itself to be taken literally, the Tao te Ching is clearly symbolic, employing numbers and relationships. It cannot be taken literally.
The thought crossed my mind that perhaps Genesis was never meant to be taken literally, as I had done as a shallow-minded youngster. Maybe it too was symbolic!
The simple and sublime mathematical clarity of Tao the Ching aroused my curiosity enough to warrant re-reading Genesis.
For your own comparison, the two creation stories are included below:
Chapter 42, Tao te Ching: A New Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English says:
The Tao begot one. One begot two. Two begot three. And the three begot the ten thousand things. The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang. They achieve harmony by combining these forces.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.
Upon first reading, the two descriptions of creation seemed to have little in common, except both were ancient. I read them again and again, side by side, struck by the idea that if both creation stories were telling of the origin of all existence, then both must be telling of the same initial event.
How could these two ancient scriptures, told in radically different styles, be translated or decoded so that their singular truth would be revealed to me? I could think of nothing more important to discover than this.
Hypnagogia is the threshold state of consciousness situated between waking and falling asleep. Technically, the transition between sleeping and waking up is a hypnopompic state (the state I often achieve and practice prolonging). However, the conscious experiencing of dreams in either of these threshold states is generally referred to as ‘hypnagogic’.
Our waking mind processes information quite differently from the dreaming mind. The language of our visually-symbolic dreams and the language of our audibly-spoken, or silently-thought, words are foreign to each other; therefore, the meanings of our dreams seldom translate very well over into our waking mind.
I would assert that the language of our dreams (archetypal patterns, proportions, and relationships) is universal and more primal than our spoken language. We have to learn our spoken language, but we understand our dream language without needing to learn it. We know what the symbols mean while we are in our dream state. If we suddenly become conscious while dreaming, our dream may seem utterly profound–that is, until we try to explain it. Then, our words may fail us; our description might come out as gibberish.
Shuttling the impressions of my dream-state over into my long-term memory requires that I resist all temptations to interpret, reorganize, evaluate or associate the symbols with previous experiences. By doing any of these things, one would be immediately thrown out of the symbolic dream-state and into the waking state, where the symbols are often misunderstood, or worse, considered meaningless and forgotten.
I must retain the visual impressions, along with their meanings, which are understood and accessible in the dream-state, until I get it all locked into my long-term memory, from which I can then recollect the full experience upon waking. Only then is the dream-born knowledge mine to keep; only then am I able to contemplate the symbols and their meanings from my wakeful mind.
Recurrent Lucid Dreams
For someone with only a high school education, the insistent, instructional insights were mesmerizing, stimulating and, at times, challenging. Fortunately, the dreams recurred each morning until the meanings I intuited were properly interpreted.
Once I grokked the meaning that was actually meant by the first dream, another new dream would present the next morning, and it would also recur until I understood it. This ongoing process is how my dreams confirm themselves to me.
Assistance by Library Angels
When an insight would confound me or seemed counter-intuitive, I would go to the library or bookstore and wander around a bit until some book would grab my attention. When I opened it, seemingly too often to be coincidental, that very page would provide some fuller explanation that enabled me to understand and assimilate what had previously been perplexing.
Sometimes a book in my own library beckoned me to revisit it, and a passage previously glossed over would leap forward to illuminate a concept applicable to my current line of questioning. When the time was right, books that had been previously irrelevant, or entirely over my head, revealed their significance.
As if home-schooled by library angels, I have read hundreds of books on such subjects as holistic health and healing; histories of science, mathematics and sacred geometry; psychology and sociology; ecology and politics; life science and quantum biology; religion and spirituality; ancient wisdom and new science; process philosophy and information theory; chaos, complexity, emergent order and cellular automata; and consciousness and yogic sciences. In this novel way of doing research, I discovered entire books that confirmed, sharpened, or expanded upon the patterns and concepts intuited in my meditations. It was surprising to me, to say the least, that renowned authors, including the most illustrious minds in philosophy and physics, sacred scribes and obscure mystics, were confirming my insights.
Some of the books mentioned above were written in such a fashion that they render their important revelations accessible to only an elite group of intellects. Hungry enough for understanding, I have been willing to plod through several such books, sometimes more than once. For the understanding I eventually gleaned, I am glad to have persisted; however, I give my special gratitude to those authors in all fields who expect ordinary people, besides academicians, to have deep and broad interests, and who, therefore, write so that careful readers can understand and benefit from their expertise. By interpreting specialized jargon as they go along, my favorite authors have expanded my vocabulary, and have illuminated concepts that would otherwise remain obscure. Kudos go also to women writers from widely-varying cultures whose brilliant work has long deserved to take its place alongside their celebrated male counterparts.
Encouragement and Coaching from a Special Friend
In November 2012, the work of translating my downloaded dreams into a linear stream of words became compelling. Hence, this blog-book which sequentially documents two decades of hypnagogic dreams and their meanings.
Having never even written a term paper myself, all I could do in the beginning was scribble down my impressions into what became a stash of notebooks – a la ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (a movie released many years later). I made notes, drew pictures, and wrote out mathematical formulations that came in my morning dreams. I had one friend, Napi, who would put up with me as I spilled out garbled descriptions of images and patterns, long before any clarity had settled in. She would optimistically take her own notes, giving more weight to my enthusiasm (the irrational sense of certainty that compelled me forward right from the start) than to the incoherence that prevailed in the early unfolding. Much gratitude goes to Napi, who taught me rules of syntax and composition, as well as computer tips to help me begin writing about my experiences. To whatever degree I have become a skillful writer, please remember that my start came from Napi’s patient guidance; however, all errors in this blog-book are entirely my own.
Power of Asking High-Quality Questions
As of this writing in 2019, it has been two decades since the commencement my lucid dreams. Between dreaming and sleeping most mornings, even still, patterns, images and words appear on the “chalkboard” inside my mind, apparently driven by my intense questioning.
Because of my experiences with question-driven lucid dreaming, I have developed a great respect for the art of questioning.
I tend to live in the belly of a high-quality question until its answer is delivered.
As an old autodidact, I have come to believe that when a person’s curiosity is compelling, and his or her attention is focused enough, tapping into universal knowledge and understanding occurs quite spontaneously. Those whose wisdom and creativity have been celebrated throughout history have often described their source of inspiration as an experience of whole-cloth immediacy. I propose that this natural, wholistic, and convenient method of learning can be, for some, richer and more satisfying than the alternative methods currently available through institutions that sometimes confuse training with education.
Just as a radio can be tuned to pick up invisible frequencies, answers are attuned to our questions. A question and its answer fit together, like a lock and key. When I feel that click, it produces a sense of clarity and gratitude — almost an ecstasy. Sometimes I get a tickly feeling that tells me an answer is very close by and trying to dock-in; however, my question is not quite fit for the answer.
At other times an answer may dock in, and even though it exudes certainty, I am ill-equipped to fully comprehend it. For example, when a mathematical formula was revealed for which I had no comprehension, I had to write it down and hire an algebra tutor before I could grasp its meaning. As it turned out, that mathematical formula offered a profound confirmation of a previous insight whose depth I had yet to fully fathom. Eventually, I recognized that the formula was, in its own right, a creation story!
More about this in An Enigmatic Formula Appears.
Joy of Philosophy
As my intuitive capacity has developed over time, more and more insights regarding nature, numbers, patterns, proportions, coordination, and hierarchy have crossed the threshold from lucid dreams into my conscious awareness. Such patterns have now become a part of my everyday life; visions of them regularly hover in front of me, even when I am fully awake.
The word ‘philosophy’ means love of knowledge. Truly, in that sense of the word, all of us who love knowledge are philosophers, myself included.
The questions I like to ponder are deep and weighty.
Driven by a steady stream of philosophical questions that can best be answered in the language of dreams, I have learned to linger longer in that wondrous state between sleeping and waking, from which answers to my questions are eventually derived.